What Do Leaders Need to Change Now? Maryam Forum Student Leaders Session

Hosted by Institute of Global Affairs, the School of Public Policy and Thinking the Unthinkable

Online public event


Nik Gowing (moderator)

Nik Gowing (moderator)

Co-Director, Thinking the Unthinkable

Chris Langdon (moderator)

Chris Langdon (moderator)

Co-Director, Thinking the Unthinkable


Piroska Nagy-Mohacsi

Piroska Nagy-Mohacsi

Interim Director, Institute of Global Affairs

Our world has been transformed and convulsed in the year since COVID-19 disrupted all our lives.

Some leaders have been inspirational, so they thrived, but many leaders have struggled and quite a few failed.

LSE Maryam Forum students leaders will discuss new ideas on how policies must change, drawing on LSE’s new co-labs on key policy challenges. 

They will debate new ideas on how leadership must adapt to thrive and address the huge challenges looming for 2021.

Nik Gowing (@NikGowing) founded the ongoing, dynamic “Thinking the Unthinkable” project in 2014 on the new frailties for leadership, including from the new cyber realities. The huge global impacts of COVID-19 in 2020 have confirmed all the project’s warnings to leaders. Nik was a main news presenter for BBC World News 1996-2014. He presented The Hub with Nik Gowing, BBC World Debates, Dateline London. For 18 years he worked at ITN. He was bureau chief in Rome and Warsaw, and Diplomatic Editor for Channel Four News (1988-1996). He has been on the councils of Chatham House (1998–2004), the Royal United Services Institute (2005–present), the Overseas Development Institute (2007-2014), the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (1996-2005). Nik has been a Visiting Professor at Kings College, London and Nanyang University (NTU), Singapore. In 2018 advised the President of the UN General Assembly on leadership challenges. He has been a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Geo-Economics.

Chris Langdon FRSA (@langdonchris) is Co-Director of Thinking the Unthinkable. He co-wrote the book of the same name with Nik Gowing. Chris specialises in public policy and governance. He works with senior policy-makers, business leaders and heads of third sector organisations. His most recent clients include the two Directorates of European Commission and a global charity. Chris assists organisational transformation with a focus on culture, mindset and behaviour. Chris is also a speaker at events on coping with radical uncertainty, drawing on the Thinking the Unthinkable research. Chris has overseen a research programme now totalling 5,000+ pages of transcripts of conversations with senior current and Next Gen leaders. Chris has 20 years of experience in facilitating change. He was MD of the Oxford Research Group from 2010-2014. He also led ORG’s work with the Israel Strategic Forum. He worked on European policy in 8 EU capitals for the ESI think tank, 2008-2010. From 1997-2008 he was an Associate Director of the UK Foreign Office’s internationally renowned conference centre, Wilton Park. There his specialisms included digital transformation, and reform in Central and South East Europe. He chaired over 50 high level events held at Wilton Park and across Europe. He directed two documentaries on change in Kosovo and in Bosnia to assist the process of transformation. Chris has a strong interest in the tools for behavioural change. He is a member of the Economic Singularity Group which includes many of the UK's leading thinkers on AI.  He is also a Fellow of the RSA. Chris began his career in television; he was senior foreign affairs producer for BBC TV News during the fall of communism from 1989-1990.

Participating students:

Katie Alesbury's mission is to contribute to the long-term health of communities and environments. In 2013 she founded the first and only food re-distribution organisation in Nicaragua. Comamos Juntos (Eat United) tackles food waste and food insecurity by working directly in and alongside local communities. Following 7 years in Nicaragua co-directing and developing the initiative, Katie is undertaking the MPP at LSE to complement her experience of innovation and mobilisation at grassroots level with systems-thinking for strategic policy interventions.

Mahima Andrew is a MPA second year student at LSE, originally from India. She has worked for over 9 years across policy design and implementation strategy focussed at healthcare and micro finance in the developing world. She has partnered with large corporates and international organizations with specific focus on public-private partnerships aimed at increasing financial inclusion in the emerging markets of India and South Africa. She has been instrumental in increasing penetration for financial products through collaborations with international bodies such as USAID. She has also worked on international policy, where she consulted on regulatory changes brought about by the Obamacare act and led policy implementation built around the revised policy framework.

Doménica Avila Luna is a Second Year MPA student at LSE. Originally from Ecuador and with a background in Economics. She has experience on Health, Education research and strategic planning. She has been a student activist and now advocate for minorities rights. Founder of projects to support Venezuelan immigrants in Ecuador.

Santina Bevacqua, Master of Public Policy Student, with an academic background in Economics and 6 year of working experience in Consulting Company, working with primary European banks on projects related to new technologies (AI, APIs) and regulations (EMIR, PSD2, Open banking, AML).

Lisa Caroll, Social and Environmental masters student at CAU Kiel, Germany, with a background in politics. Originally from Ireland, she has experience in international development working with an umbrella organisation representing the sector to the Irish government. Currently Lisa is working on a number of research projects based around climate change, development, and representative government. 

Paulina Chan is a first-year master's student in the LSE-Fudan double-degree programme in International Social and Public Policy, for which she is also the academic representative. She is originally from Canada, where she recently completed a bachelor's degree with a double-major in Political Science and East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto.

Adrian Fossaceca, first-year MPA in Economic Policy candidate, originally from Venezuela. Research experience in macroeconomic policy and development for Latin American, as well as for oil-dependent economies. 

Hassan Gali, MPP LSE alumnus currently working in The Front Office of the Economics, Policy and Governance Department at the EBRD. I'm a Medical Doctor by background, graduated from the University of Medical Sciences and Technology in Khartoum and have been practising in the UK's NHS since 2010. I also hold an MSc in Public Policy and Global Health from Durham University, where I researched the Impact of US Sanctions on Sudan's Health infrastructure. My interests include the political economy of reform and building state capability.

Fernanda Garcia Sanchez, MPP student with a background in political studies and work experience in public affairs, international trade and strategic communication consulting in Mexico where she was engaged in a wide array of sectors, from electoral political analysis, energy policy to copyright and urban mobility.

John Gordon, MSc Economics student. Originally from Geneva, he has recently completed the BSc Philosophy Politics and Economics at LSE.

Benjamin Grazda is pursuing an MSc in Conflict Studies in the Department of Government. He worked for a couple of years in the US Senate and spent the last four years working for humanitarian organizations in Kenya, Nigeria, Iraq, and Syria. He's interested in working collaboratively with peers and practitioners from around the world in an interdisciplinary setting to develop solutions for the most pressing and complex problems facing us today. He's especially interested in working collaboratively with people from the countries most affected by these issues and ensuring their ideas and perspectives are represented in policy solutions. 

Omnia Hamza, Global Health policy master student at LSE, originally from Sudan, she has been working at the federal ministry of health in Sudan in the Global Health Directorate. She also has an experience in the health policy area as she was part of the team that working on the Sudan National Health Policy as part of her work in the National Public Health Institute. Global health advocate, passionate about strengthening health systems in LMICs. 

Mohamad Nassar, LSE MPA student. Background in Engineering and Finance. Originally from Egypt. Lived in Dubai for the last 4 years. Worked in recruitment consulting. Research interest in global public debt sustainability.

Asha Niall, LSE MPP student with a background in environmental policy. She is a civil servant with experience in disaster management governance and coordination, climate change adaptation and resilience policy, and legislative and regulatory reform.

Muskaan Sofet, MPA student with a background in economics. She has worked with several Non-governmental organisations in the education sector. She has also worked with organisations in India to encourage more students to join the policy circuit. Currently she is researching on patterns of democracy and their implementation. 

Karina Rodriguez Villafuerte, Second-year Master of Public Administration at the LSE. Originally from Peru, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Universidad del Pacífico. Worked at several institutions within the Peruvian government, such as the Ministry of Transports and Communications, the Authority for Reconstruction and, most recently, the Ministry of Economics and Finance, where she was part of the team that published Peru’s first National Infrastructure Plan. Karina has also worked as an external consultant for the World Bank, conducting research on competition policies in Latin America. 

Jintao Zhu, LSE BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) 4th Year from China.

This session is part of the LSE Conference on “One Year On: Lessons Learnt and ‘New Normals’ in a Post-COVID World “hosted  under the LSE Maryam Forum. Click here to view all conference sessions.

The LSE Maryam Forum is a multi-year programme aimed at accelerating the kind of leadership the world needs urgently. A product of the LSE Institute of Global Affairs (IGA) and the School of Public Policy (SPP), it has been conceived as a collaboration between policy makers, students, academic researchers, business leaders and media. Driven by deep engagement with faculty and students, the Maryam Forum builds on LSE and IGA’s strong track record in research, policy engagement and capacity building.

Thinking the Unthinkable (@Think_Unthink) provides original research interviewing leaders and helps build a new type of leadership that thrives on change.

The Institute of Global Affairs (@LSEIGA) at the LSE School of Public Policy aims to maximise the impact of LSE's leading expertise across the social sciences by shaping inclusive and locally-rooted responses to the most important and pressing global challenges.

The School of Public Policy (@LSEPublicPolicy) is an international community where ideas and practice meet. Our approach creates professionals with the ability to analyse, understand and resolve the challenges of contemporary governance.

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